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Nicolais: April snow showers always throw me for a loop

Just like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football, I am always caught making spring plans when a late snowstorm arrives

Last Saturday I laid sod in my yard as the temperatures rose through the 60s and touched 70. This weekend I will be staring out over the area covered in a blanket of snow.

There may be nothing to signal spring in Colorado like a late snowstorm.

I am a Colorado native and have been accustomed to the last vestiges of winter. Nonetheless, every year it still seems to take me by surprise. Without fail I am lulled into the warmth and grandeur of a beautiful Colorado weekend in March or April and begin thinking about summer activities. 

Mario Nicolais

Hiking, camping, backpacking. Grilling with friends. Hanging out on patio bars. Playing pickup soccer games in Cranmer Park. Watching the Rockies set new records in futility. All the things that draw people to our state — and many of which seemed stuck in time over the past year.

Maybe that made me more susceptible this year. The promise of spring this year bears the promise of freedom and escape from a pandemic, not just frosty weather.

I am sure Mother Nature just smiled and shook her head at my naivete.

Despite what most of the country believes, blizzards are not reserved for the fall and winter months during Denver Broncos games played on national television. To the contrary, according to the National Weather Service, the seasonal normal snowiest months are March and April.

Anyone who shoveled out of three feet of snow in March 2003 can attest to that. Adjacent to the deep freezes of February and historically noted for deep snowfalls, it is difficult to be truly taken off guard in March. Even the warmest, stroll-in-a-park friendly days only feel like harbingers of what is to come, not what actually is during the month.

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But April. April is so close to May and blooms of flowers in the foothills and mountain hiking trails re-emerging from winter snowdrifts. April is when plans for summer excursions take root. It is the month for thinking about summer gardens and when seeds should be sowed for June and July harvests.

And every year a week of mid-April weather too warm for anything but shirt sleeves and shorts lulls me into making foolish decisions with my weekend plans. I begin outdoor projects or plant doomed vegetable plants or lay out the summer deck furniture. Or lay sod.

As sure as spring follows winter follows spring in Colorado, those weeks come just before a heavy, wet, tree branch-breaking snowfall blankets the state.

Such April snow showers should not be a surprise. They are not the same as the Mother’s Day miracle in May 2015 that nearly ruined a friend’s wedding and led to my wife and both her daughter and mother bailing snowmelt water out of our basement (yes, a new sump pump pit was my next DIY project that year). In contrast, April snows come like clockwork, at any time during the month, every year.

And like clockwork, I am caught off guard. Every year.

Maybe if I listened more closely to my high school classmate and local meteorologist, Lisa Hidalgo, I would stop acting like Charlie Brown to Colorado weather’s Lucy. But alas, my optimism always gets the best of me.

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Luckily, April snow in Denver is surely followed by rapidly rising temperatures that make piles of slushy snowdrifts disappear over the course of hours, not weeks. This year seems no different. By the end of the week our fair state will be climbing past 50- and 60-degree highs and touching the low 70s.

By the time my next column appears, there is a good chance that I may mistake the season for summer. 

That will mean new plans and new weekend aspirations. And new hope that Colorado is not ready to snow on my parade once again.


Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq


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